Man Utd have four candidates to take Ronaldo’s No 7 shirt next summer

Erik ten Hag on Cristiano Ronaldo staying at Man Utd

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The clock seems to be ticking on Cristiano Ronaldo’s Manchester United career. The Portugal international’s contract is due to expire at the end of the season and, right now, the Red Devils have no plans to trigger an extension – while Erik ten Hag also wants a new centre-forward to arrive. So, with that being the case, Express Sport will now take a look at four players who could take his famous No 7 jersey in the event of any parting of the ways…

Jadon Sancho

Jadon Sancho signed for United from Borussia Dortmund back in the summer transfer window of 2021.

Yet the England international experienced a rough start to life back in England, with the 22-year-old struggling for consistency under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Ralf Rangnick.

Sancho is starting to come good for United now, however, and has bagged three goals already this term – with the latest coming against Sheriff on Thursday night.

The youngster thought he’d be getting the No 7 when he joined just over a year ago, only for Edinson Cavani to give it to Ronaldo instead.

Therefore, Sancho seems the likeliest next occupant of a number that means more at Old Trafford than any other club on the planet.

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Marcus Rashford

Marcus Rashford, like Sancho, went off the boil last term.

The England international scored just five goals for the club across all competitions, cutting a shadow of his usual self as the club finished sixth in the Premier League table.

But Rashford has regained his swagger to become a key figure under Ten Hag – netting three times in six outings.

He wears the No 10 these days, having been given the number following the departure of Zlatan Ibrahimovic in 2018.

But the No 7 would be an even bigger honour due to the fact it’s been sported by legends such as Ronaldo, George Best, Eric Cantona and David Beckham over the years.

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United handed Antony the No 21 shirt previously worn by Cavani when he joined from Ajax back in the summer.

It’s been a steady, if unspectacular, start to life with the Red Devils for the Brazil international – who netted on his debut against Arsenal.

United are, however, planning another pursuit of Frenkie de Jong. Should the Barcelona star move to Old Trafford, the No 21 would be his preferred shirt number.

That could lead to Antony being given new digits in his second year at the club.

And the No 7 could motivate the enterprising 22-year-old into kicking on even further, especially when you consider his vast potential.

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Alejandro Garnacho

Alejandro Garnacho is potentially the hottest prospect on United’s books at present.

The Argentina international propelled them to FA Youth Cup glory at the end of last season, scoring twice in a 3-1 victory over Nottingham Forest in the final.

And, so good is Garnacho, there’s been talk of him being a wildcard selection for his country at the World Cup in Qatar later in the year.

United believe he has the potential to become one of the best players in the whole of world football.

So giving him the No 7 shirt would be a statement, one that shows they’re fully behind the 18-year-old as he looks to become a modern-day great like compatriot Lionel Messi.

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So what’s happening with Ronaldo?

Ronaldo scored his first goal of the season for United in their 2-0 win over Sheriff on Thursday.

But it was another flat and subdued performance from the veteran, who is currently starting to look a shadow of his usual self.

United are planning to trigger one-year extensions for the likes of Rashford, Fred, Luke Shaw, David De Gea and Fred as they look to avoid losing them for nothing at the end of the season.

Yet they don’t plan on doing the same with Ronaldo.

All signs are pointing to a parting of the ways at the end of the season as a result, while an exit would be almost a certainty if they fail to qualify for the Champions League for a second year in succession.

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